Justia U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Health Law
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The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of plaintiff's claims for damages for violation of section 18(2)(e) of the New York Public Health Law, which provides that health care providers may impose only a "reasonable charge," not to exceed "seventy-five cents per page," for copies of medical records. In its answer to a certified question of law from the Second Circuit, the New York Court of Appeals concluded that no private right of action lies for violations of section 18(2)(e). Accordingly, dismissal was proper. View "Ortiz v. Ciox Health LLC" on Justia Law

Posted in: Health Law
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Teachers and school administrators challenge the denial of motions to preliminarily enjoin the enforcement of an order issued by the New York City Commissioner of Health and Mental Hygiene mandating that individuals who work in New York City schools be vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus.The Second Circuit concluded that the Vaccine Mandate does not violate the First Amendment on its face. However, the court concluded that plaintiffs have established their entitlement to preliminary relief on the narrow ground that the procedures employed to assess their religious accommodation claims were likely constitutionally infirm as applied to them. The court explained that the Accommodation Standards as applied here were neither neutral nor generally applicable to plaintiffs, and thus the court applied a strict scrutiny analysis at this stage of the proceeding. The court concluded that these procedures cannot survive strict scrutiny because denying religious accommodations based on the criteria outlined in the Accommodation Standards, such as whether an applicant can produce a letter from a religious official, is not narrowly tailored to serve the government's interest in preventing the spread of COVID-19. Accordingly, the court vacated the district court's orders denying preliminary relief and concurred with and continued the interim relief granted by the motions panel as to these fifteen individual plaintiffs. The court remanded for further proceedings. View "Kane v. De Blasio" on Justia Law

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New York’s “Prevention of COVID-19 transmission” Rule, issued in August 2021, directs hospitals, nursing homes, hospices, adult care facilities, and other healthcare entities to “continuously require” certain employees to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. It establishes a medical exemption to the requirement, but—consistent with New York’s prior vaccination requirements for healthcare workers—does not include an exemption based on religious belief. The Rule permits, but does not require, employers to make other accommodations for individuals who choose not to be vaccinated based on their sincere religious beliefs.The plaintiffs, primarily healthcare workers, challenged the Rule, claiming that being vaccinated would violate their religious beliefs because the vaccines were developed or produced using cell lines derived from cells obtained from voluntarily aborted fetuses. One district court enjoined the Rule insofar as it prevented healthcare workers from being eligible for a religious exemption; the other denied relief.The Second Circuit rejected the Plaintiffs’ claims. With respect to the Free Exercise claim, they have not established that they are likely to prove that the Rule is not a neutral law of general applicability or that it does not satisfy rational basis review. Nor have they demonstrated a likelihood of success on their Supremacy Clause claim; they have not shown that it would likely be impossible for employers to comply with both the Rule and Title VII. The Plaintiffs are not likely to succeed on their claim that the Rule contravenes the Fourteenth Amendment. View "We The Patriots USA, Inc. v. Hochul" on Justia Law

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Bellin brought a putative class action under 42 U.S.C. 1983, alleging that managed long-term care plans (MLTCs) that contract with New York State violate Medicaid beneficiaries’ due process rights by denying them the right to appeal an MLTC’s initial determination of the personal care services hours the MLTC will provide the beneficiary if they choose to enroll with the MLTC. Bellin also alleged that beneficiaries are entitled to this appeal right, and to notice of the right, under federal statutory and constitutional law. Bellin brought her claims against ElderServe, an MLTC that she alleges denied her these rights, and Zucker, in his official capacity as Commissioner of the New York State Department of Health, for his alleged failure to enforce these asserted rights.The Second Circuit affirmed the dismissal of Bellin’s federal law claims on the grounds that the relevant federal statutes do not provide Medicaid beneficiaries a right to appeal initial personal care services hours determinations. The court vacated the dismissal of Bellin’s Fourteenth Amendment due process claims; Bellin plausibly alleged a constitutionally protected property interest in the determination of her personal care services hours. View "Bellin v. Zucker" on Justia Law

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Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont and the state's Commissioner of the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection James Rovella appeal from the district court's order granting a preliminary injunction ordering that the Governor repeal, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, a provision to suspend collection of fingerprints in connection with applications for authorization to obtain firearms. The injunction also ordered that the Governor repeal that provision of the executive order and that the DESPP Commissioner resume fingerprinting services at that agency.The Second Circuit vacated the preliminary injunction and concluded that: (1) with respect to the individual plaintiffs, the preliminary injunction motion became moot in the district court; and (2) CCDL lacked organizational standing. Because the motion was moot and CCDL lacked standing, the district court had no jurisdiction to issue the preliminary injunction. View "Connecticut Citizens Defense League, Inc. v. Lamont" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, a group of nursing homes that participate in both the Medicare and Medicaid programs, challenge the legality of DHS's Final Rule permitting survey teams conducting certain inspections of nursing homes not to include a registered nurse. The district court dismissed plaintiffs' claims, brought under the Medicare and Medicaid Acts, for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction based on claim-channeling and jurisdiction-stripping provisions governing claims arising under the Medicare Act.The Second Circuit reversed, concluding that the district court has jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. 1331 over plaintiffs' claim arising under the Medicaid Act, which does not incorporate the same claim-channeling and jurisdiction-stripping provisions as the Medicare Act. The court explained that the Medicare Act's review provisions do not preclude plaintiffs from challenging the Final Rule in federal court because their challenge is independently rooted in the Medicaid Act. Furthermore, plaintiffs' Medicaid Act claim is not inextricably intertwined with a Medicare Act claim for benefits or compliance determination, and the government's policy rationale does not support claim channeling and jurisdiction stripping in this case. Accordingly, the court remanded for further proceedings. View "Avon Nursing & Rehabilitation v. Becerra" on Justia Law

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Defendants appealed the district court's judgment certifying a plaintiff class and enjoining state defendants from conducting Medicaid fair hearings in a manner that does not result in final determinations of Medicaid eligibility within 90 days of hearing requests. At issue is the phrase "final administrative action" in the context of a federal Medicaid regulation that requires a state agency to take such action within a specified time limit following a Medicaid applicant's request for a fair hearing. 42 C.F.R. 431.244(f).The Second Circuit held that the federal regulatory requirement of "final administrative action" within 90 days requires the state to determine Medicaid eligibility within that time. However, the court explained that such determinations may be made in hearing decisions or on remand to local agencies. Therefore, the regulation mandates that states meet the applicable deadline, but it does not limit states as to the administrative level at which that deadline is met. The court affirmed in part and remanded for further proceedings. View "Lisnitzer v. Zucker" on Justia Law

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The Second Circuit originally resolved the motions that are the subject of this opinion in an order entered November 9, 2020. Except in unusual circumstances, the court resolves such motions by order, not opinion. The court converted the original order and the dissent into opinions per the dissent's request.These appeals challenge Governor Andrew Cuomo's issuance of an executive order directing the New York State Department of Health to identify yellow, orange, and red "zones" based on the severity of COVID-19 outbreaks and imposing correspondingly severe restrictions on activity within each zone. Appellants, Agudath Israel and the Diocese, each challenged the executive order as a violation of the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment. After the district court denied appellants' motion for a preliminary injunction against enforcement of the order, appellants moved for emergency injunctions pending appeal and to expedite their appeals.Preliminarily, the Second Circuit concluded that Agudath Israel did not move first in the district court for an order granting an injunction while an appeal is pending before filing with this court its present motion for an injunction pending appeal. Rather, Agudath Israel moved for a preliminary injunction pending the district court’s final judgment. Furthermore, Agudath Israel has not explained or otherwise justified its failure to comply with the straightforward requirement of Federal Rule of Appellate Procedure 8(a). Agudath Israel has also failed to demonstrate that moving first in the district court would be impracticable, or even futile, particularly in light of the fact that a full eleven days elapsed after the district court's ruling before Agudath Israel sought relief from this court. Therefore, the court denied Agudath Israel's motion for procedural reasons.The court also denied the Diocese's motion, concluding that appellants cannot clear the high bar necessary to obtain an injunction pending appeal. The court stated that, while it is true that the challenged order burdens appellants' religious practices, the order is not substantially underinclusive given its greater or equal impact on schools, restaurants, and comparable secular public gatherings. To the contrary, the executive order extends well beyond isolated groups of religious adherents to encompass both secular and religious conduct. View "Agudath Israel of America v. Cuomo" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, a Medicare beneficiary who uses a Continuous Glucose Monitoring device (CGM) to manage his Type I diabetes, sought Medicare coverage to offset the costs associated with his CGM. After the Medicare Appeals Council rejected plaintiff's requests for coverage, he challenged the adverse decisions in federal court. The district court concluded that two of the three challenged decisions failed to meet the $1,500 amount-in-controversy threshold for federal court jurisdiction and that the Medicare Act did not permit plaintiff to cure the jurisdictional deficiency by aggregating the three separate amounts.The Second Circuit held, based on the text of the statute and reinforced by its regulatory and legislative history, that the Medicare Act does not prohibit plaintiff from aggregating his claims for the first time in district court. Therefore, the district court erred in refusing to let plaintiff aggregate his claims to satisfy the Act's amount-in-controversy requirement. The court vacated the district court's judgment and remanded for further proceedings. View "Bloom v. Azar" on Justia Law

Posted in: Health Law
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The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal, based on Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), of plaintiff's amended complaint alleging that defendants violated Connecticut and District of Columbia law in entering into a licensing agreement with respect to a group plan for Medicare supplement insurance. Plaintiff claimed that defendants' royalty fee arrangement constituted an unlawful "premium rebate" in violation of Connecticut and District of Columbia anti-rebating insurance laws.The court held that plaintiff did not state an unlawful rebate claim under Connecticut or D.C. law because he failed to plausibly allege any ascertainable loss or injury as a result of his purchase of Medicare supplement insurance ("Medigap") or the AARP royalty fee. Likewise, the court held that plaintiff failed to plausibly allege a cognizable claim based on his purchase of Medigap insurance through the AARP-UnitedHealthcare plan. In regard to plaintiff's consumer protection claims, he failed to show any concrete and particularized injury because he paid only the regulator-approved rate and received the Medigap insurance he contracted for. Finally, plaintiff failed to plausibly allege the requisite elements for his remaining common law claims and his statutory theft claim under Connecticut law. View "Dane v. UnitedHealthcare Insurance Co." on Justia Law